Dempo FC kept their unbeaten run intact, scoring once in each half to beat Salgaocar FC 2-0 and enter the final of the 36th Hero Federation Cup football tournament in Margao, Goa, on Friday.
Dominating the match in both sessions, they got both their goals through Tolgay Ozbey (11th and 59th minute), and could have won by bigger margin had rival ‘keeper Subrata Paul not effected three brilliant saves.
Both the teams played an open game in the first half. Dempo, who came into the match with an unbeaten run, looked more organised in their attack, creating more scoring chances as they moved the ball from the flanks with Tolgay putting a lot of pressure on the rival defence.
They took the lead in the 11th minute against the run of play when Francis Fernandes, who received the ball on the left, took a shot that took an awkward deflection off Tolgay and found the far corner of the net, beating Paul all ends up.
The Australian striker, who was put through on the right twice, then saw his effort first sail over the bar and later saved by Paul.
Salgaocar, hit hard by the absence of Darryl Duffy, were looking for their third title this season and enjoyed the upper hand in midfield but were not given space by the rival defenders to strike.
Salgaocar, having played all the league phase matches at Tilak Stadium in Vasco, looked good as they tried to find the equaliser and substiute Cliffton Dias's effort off a Douhou Pierre pass missed the target narrowly.
Dempo made a counter attack and earned a penalty after Paul, who left his charge to foil Tolgay, brought down the striker, who was in good position to score after Mandar Rao Dessai set him free inside the box. Referee Pranjal Banerjee awarded the penalty, which Tolgay himself converted in the 59th minute.
Thereafter Dempo FC put tremendous pressure on their fellow-Goa opponents from the right flank and could have scored on three occasions had it not been for Paul who brought off superlative saves off Mandar Rao Dessai, Jewel Raja and substitute Hollicharan Nazaray in quick succession.
Salgaocar came up with a couple of forays in the closing stages and could have pulled one back, but Francis Kasonde was late in connecting the ball off Gurjinder Kumar's effort which came via a Pierre free-kick.